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Posts Tagged ‘Nicolas Cage’

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Wednesday, April 27th, 2022

I’m going to start this review nice and then get all my complaints out and then be nice again. THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT is a fun movie with the irresistible gimmick that it stars Nic Cage as himself (or, I guess, “Nick Cage,” according to the credits). It’s pretty funny and kind of sweet, it allows him to refer to his “nouveau shamanic acting” process a couple times, references some of his movies, even has a de-aged and sometimes mega version of himself as his invisible spirit guide, “Nicky.” It’s a nice mainstream acknowledgment of what used to be a somewhat fringe opinion: that Nic Cage is brilliant and awesome, whether as an action star, as a work-a-day b-movie headliner, or as an eccentric weirdo.

The plot involves Cage at a low point because he’s been rejected for a role he wants really bad (directed by David Gordon Green, who wrote the foreword to Seagalogy, which means I’m two degrees from Nic Cage), he’s running out of money, and his daughter Addy (Lily Mo Sheen, UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION) and ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan, GAME NIGHT) are fed up with him. So he agrees to accept an offer to attend a rich dude’s birthday party in Mallorca for a million dollars. (read the rest of this shit…)

Prisoners of the Ghostland

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND is the latest entry in the Nicolas-Cage-weirdo-arthouse-version-of-an-exploitation-movie subgenre (see also: BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS, MANDY, PIG). This one is unusual because it’s the first English-language movie from respected Japanese director Sion Sono (SUICIDE CLUB, LOVE EXPOSURE, WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL). It’s the first movie I’ve seen from him, but I promise I’ll watch TOKYO TRIBE, which has been recommended to me a few times.

It takes place in what seems like a post-apocalyptic settlement, though apparently it’s just a section of Japan that has been quarantined after a nuclear waste accident. The place is called Samurai Town, and it’s mostly populated by Japanese people in traditional robes, but “The Governor” (Bill Moseley, PINK CADILLAC) is an American redneck. I like how it looks like a very colorful period samurai movie but then there’s a car and Moseley in a white suit and cowboy hat. (read the rest of this shit…)

Pig

Monday, July 19th, 2021

PIG is an unusual new Nicolas Cage joint that I was happy to have as my second post-vaccination theatrical experience. But this one is about as different from an F9 type spectacle as can be achieved by science. When you see the trailer or hear the premise (somebody steals Nic Cage’s truffle pig and he goes to the city to get it back) you might think about TOM YUM GOONG/THE PROTECTOR (where somebody steals Tony Jaa’s baby elephant and he goes to the city to get it back) or maybe JOHN WICK (where somebody kills Keanu’s dog and he goes on a rampage to get back at them). The truth is that it only shares the emotional center of those ideas (people form bonds with and assign meaning to their animal companions) – it’s decidedly not an action movie or even a revenge thriller. It’s a slow burn character piece and parable that doesn’t even have much violence, and will probly be pretty boring to some people, especially if they came in with the wrong idea. But it was just what I wanted.

Cage’s character Rob is a loner who lives in a cabin in the woods somewhere outside of Portland, Oregon. He seems very enamored of his nameless pig, who comes when he whistles and helps him dig up truffles in the forest. When he makes himself a “rustic mushroom tart” for dinner he shares it with her. The rest of the truffles he puts in a cooler to sell to the young hot shot Amir (Alex Wolff, HEREDITARY), who drives in every Thursday in his bitchin’ yellow Camaro. It feels like a drug transaction. Amir tries to make conversation, but Rob doesn’t so much as grunt. (read the rest of this shit…)

Jiu Jitsu

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

There’s something going on in the world of indie action that I don’t think gets enough attention. It started in 2016 with KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE, a fun remake of the Cannon classic, with stuntman Alain Moussi in the lead and JCVD himself, in eccentric character actor mode, playing the mentor. It was directed by John Stockwell, who did pretty good with IN THE BLOOD and some of his other movies, so when the screenwriter took over as director for the sequel that didn’t seem like a good sign to me.

I was so wrong! KICKBOXER: RETALIATION turned out even better than the first one, with much more ambitious and assured direction, including complex choreography with great long take camera work. Of course, writer/director Dimitri Logothetis wasn’t some screenwriter getting his first shot at directing – he’d had a long and unusual filmmaking history that started in ’80s b-movies, producing HARDBODIES 2 and directing SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK, and included the 1989 boxing documentary CHAMPIONS FOREVER. Incidentally he’s also a blackbelt in Kenpo karate, having been taught by Ed Parker (he says he got to train with Elvis three times).

Now Logothetis has reunited with Moussi for another action vehicle, not a remake but a sci-fi story he first tested out as a comic book. And since it has a crazy premise and a good supporting role for Nicolas Cage maybe more people will notice this time. (read the rest of this shit…)

Color Out of Space

Monday, February 24th, 2020

COLOR OF OUTER SPACE is last year’s comeback film for Richard Stanley, known for not directing THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU. Working on a lower budget with the cool production company SpectreVision (MANDY, A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT) he was able this time to successfully achieve his weird literary adaptation dreams without ever having to hide out in a rain forest disguised as a dog man.

This one’s based on H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” originally published in a 1927 issue of Amazing Stories, and it opens with a young woman in a cape with a white horse performing an occult ritual. Nice trick – I assumed it was a prologue in the faraway past, but it’s the modern day, and she’s just a weirdo. She’s Lavinia Gardner (Madeleine Arthur, BIG EYES), daughter of Nathan (Nic Cage, known for not starring in SUPERMAN LIVES) and Theresa (Joely Richardson, MAGGIE), who have recently moved from “the big city” (as all normal humans call their home town) to an isolated farm in Arkham, Massachusetts. They’re kind of trying to live Off the Grid, so they get their water from a well, don’t have reliable wi-fi, and are raising alpacas, “the animal of the future” according to Dad. (read the rest of this shit…)

Never On Tuesday

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Recently I saw multiple articles about a scene from an obscure movie that someone had appreciatively posted on Twitter – “that insane Nicolas Cage viral clip,” as Entertainment Weekly put it. Can you believe that Youtube clip he did? The inside story of that Youtube clip he did. What a nut! What a meme! What a Nicolas Cage!

The clip was a very brief and strange uncredited cameo Cage did in the 1989 straight to video sex comedy NEVER ON TUESDAY. It had never made it to DVD because the company that had planned to went out of business first. I’d never seen it even though it’s the first movie from a director I like, Adam Rifkin (PSYCHO COP 2, THE LAST MOVIE STAR).

It’s great that we have the technology to easily share shit like this, but I’m old school so I waited to watch the whole thing. When I checked Amazon it was listed as “currently unavailable” on both VHS and Prime streaming (which I don’t get anyway), but luckily we’re still holding on to Scarecrow Video here in Seattle, so I rented the tape. I’m glad I did!

(read the rest of this shit…)

Mom and Dad

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

Brian Taylor is the former camera operator and guy who played “Young Man” in THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN who, with partner Mark Neveldine, wrote and directed CRANK, CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE, GAMER and GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE. The CRANKs are beloved by many, and feature some fun ideas and a game Jason Statham, but when I watched them a decade ago I could not abide their intentionally obnoxious why-are-you-hitting-yourself-why-are-you-hitting-yourself stylistic and comedic fart-in-the-face. GAMER I despised even more because it tried harder to work as a high concept action movie and tried less to make it possible to have any clue what you are ever even looking at. And GHOST RIDER I don’t think they were happy with and it’s not very good but I liked some of what they did.

But in 2017 Taylor made his solo directing debut with MOM AND DAD and for my money this is his best movie. (He has subsequently done two seasons of a SyFy series called Happy! which I’ve heard some good things about.) It’s not like he’s changed what he’s about. He’s still using gimmicky camera moves, cheeky needle drops and spastic cutaways, and you better believe he’s gonna repeatedly slap you across the face with bursts of rockin guitars and blip bloopin dubstep electro-burps (score by Australian DJ/producer Mr. Bill). But it feels more under his control, more like a storyteller strategically employing chaos in service of a story, less like a dude with no pants on blowing two airhorns in your face and uncontrollably giggling about how funny it is that he’s doing it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is the 7th motion picture starring Spider-Man (not counting unauthorized Turkish ones), the second Sony In Association With Marvel movie of 2018, and probly only the third biggest Marvel Comics movie of its year. But I honestly think it’s revolutionary. Not necessarily for super heroes – its story of colliding alternate dimensions is clever, but built on familiar comic book traditions – but for animated features. Somehow Sony, who had been considered so clueless about what to do with Spider-Man that they had to farm him out to Marvel, found people who knew how to celebrate the vast history, meaning and potential of the character in a completely new cinematic way.

So much has been done in computer animation since TOY STORY. There have been many great achievements in the form, including two funny super hero movies in the INCREDIBLES series. But the kineticism and print-inspired graphic playfulness of SPIDER-VERSE feels completely new. The Spider-men-and-women run and flip and swing and glide in exaggerated splash page poses true to the history of cartooning but rarely possible in computer models. They’re (mostly) rendered in three dimensions, but with line art details and outlines and Zip-a-Tone dot shading. Some shots or characters are done in traditional hand drawn animation. Backgrounds sometimes have spray paint coloring in honor of the movie’s graffiti writer protagonist. Comic book description boxes, sound effects and motion lines – most importantly Spidey-Sense wiggle lines – appear on screen. The filmatism includes split screens, pseudo time lapse, jump cuts and hotshot flying camera moves that seem more at home in this cartoony animation than in the special effects movies where they have to pass for live action. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mandy

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

MANDY is a deranged bad trip of a movie from director Panos Cosmatos (BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW). It features a high grade mega-acting performance from Nicolas Cage (FIREBIRDS), and Cosmatos is the rare director to cinematically keep pace with Cage’s style rather than try to balance it out. He and cinematographer Benjamin Loeb (KING COBRA) peel off the skin of reality and find the painted covers of obscure fantasy novels and death metal albums beneath.

Cage plays Red Miller, a lumberjack who lives in a cabin in the Shadow Mountains circa 1983 with his fantasy illustrator girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough, OBLIVION). One day they get kidnapped by a demonic biker gang and psychotic Christian cult led by hippie folk singer Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache, THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK), who strings Red up with barb wire and (SPOILER) burns Mandy alive, leaving her to crumble into ashes in his hands.

But he escapes and gathers some weapons and comes back and fucking fucks shit up. And that’s enough to hang a movie on in my opinion but explaining the premise does not remotely describe the movie, which seems from frame one to be drugged out of its mind and/or existing on a different astral plane. I bet when they try to play BORN LOSERS on Civic TV, this is how it broadcasts – a psychedelic fever dream revenge nightmare. (read the rest of this shit…)

Snake Eyes

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

August 7, 1998

There’s this conventional wisdom I’ve heard thrown around more than once that if you notice a shot being cool then it’s not really a good shot. Which is to deny the existence of Brian De Palma. SNAKE EYES is an underrated spot on the De Palma timeline when he had just made a huge hit with MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE and was able to cash in and get big studio resources for a much more purely DePalmian thriller that exhibits 36 chambers of filmatistic showboating.

Why not use the suspense thriller format to explore every new or uncommon use of cinematic language De Palma was interested in at the time? Additionally, why not use every new or uncommon use of cinematic language De Palma was interested in at the time to explore the suspense thriller format? There is no why not. This movie is great.

Nicolas Cage, not long after FACE/OFF, plays Rick Santoro, not the stick-up-his-ass homophobe former GOP senator and presidential candidate from Pennsylvania, but an obnoxious, bribe-taking bad lieutenant, port of call Atlantic City, who wears loud clothes, bets on boxing matches, and is gonna have to stop fucking around and be a hero this time. See, Santoro is standing close enough to get blood on him when the secretary of defense (Joel Fabiani, BRENDA STARR) gets shot at the fight. Santoro bulldozes his way into investigating so he can cover the ass of his old war hero buddy Gary Sinise, REINDEER GAMES), who was in charge of security. (read the rest of this shit…)